Social Habits And Sensitive People: The Four Tendencies

Once in a while, we come across concepts that are game changers for us as HSPs. This month, I would like to share something that has helped me in my own journey as an artistic HSP and might help you too. It comes from the work of New York Times bestselling author Gretchen Rubin, The Four Tendencies, one of several books she has written on happiness and habits.

Have you ever felt that you are hyper-aware of others’ expectations as an HSP and that it is easy for you to fulfill these outer expectations but somehow very difficult to fulfill your own inner expectations? While this can stem from many different and complex reasons (such as people pleasing), those reasons are not the whole story. It turns out that people have an innate, hardwired tendency that determines how they respond to different kinds of expectations. Learning about these can help us answer that frustrating question: Why am I so good at meeting other people’s expectations but not so good at fulfilling my own?

The Four Tendencies

In her latest book The Four Tendencies, Rubin talks about how different people respond differently to expectations. The seed of the book came in a conversation that Gretchen Rubin had with a friend. Rubin says:

“As I bit into my cheeseburger and my friend picked at her salad, she made a comment that would occupy my mind for years. In an offhand way, she mentioned, “I want to get myself in the habit of running, but I can’t, and it really bothers me.” Then she added, in a crucial observation, “When I was on the high school track team, I never missed track practice, so why can’t I go running now?”

“Why?” I echoed.

“Well, you know, it’s so hard to make time for ourselves.”

“Hmmm,” I said.”

Rubin and her friend then started talking about other things, but even after they’d said goodbye, she couldn’t stop thinking about their exchange. Why was it that it had been easy for her friend to go running in the past but that wasn’t the case anymore? Was it her age, her motivation, her family situation or something else?

Explorations About Social Habits

Although her friend had assumed that everyone had “trouble making time for themselves,” that wasn’t true for Rubin. She did not have any trouble making time for herself. So, what was the difference between them? Rubin would spend the next few years trying to answer this question.

This search led to Rubin asking some preliminary questions to readers of her website. She found, weirdly enough, that groups of people answered the same question in 4 identical ways, almost down to the words they were using. To the simple question of “How do you feel about New Year resolution?” a subset of people gave this almost identical answer: “I’ll keep a resolution if it’s useful, but I won’t start on New Year’s Day, because January 1 is an arbitrary date.” Rubin was intrigued by the use of this specific word because the arbitrariness of the January 1 date had never bothered her. But so many people gave the same answer; what did they have in common?

In a similar way, another group answered: “I don’t make New Year’s resolutions anymore because I never manage to keep them—I never make time for myself.”

Another group said: “I never make resolutions because I don’t like to bind myself.”

It was after a lot of this give and take on her blog and people naturally dividing themselves up into 4 distinct groups that Rubin had her eureka moment. She had found the key! The underlying question was: “How do you respond to expectations?” Answering this question led to her book, The Four Tendencies.

Expectations And The Four Tendencies

In fact, we all face two kinds of expectations: inner and outer. An inner expectation is something we place on ourselves, like a New Year’s resolution, while an outer expectation is something like a work deadline. Depending on how you respond to these expectations, Rubin found that people fell into one of these four types or four tendencies:

  1. Upholders respond to both outer expectations and inner expectations.
  2. Questioners question all expectations; they meet an expectation only if they believe it’s justified, so in effect, they respond only to inner expectations
  3. Obligers respond readily to outer expectations but struggle to meet inner expectations.
  4. Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike.

Guess where I fell on this framework? I was an Obliger. If something was imposed from the outside, like a work deadline, I usually met it. But for years, I could not figure out why I wasn’t able to do enough on the side (like some people I knew were able to do), to switch careers or work on my writing. It turns out that Obligers need outer accountability. So, if you have an inner expectation, you have to, in a sense, turn it into an outer expectation and then, you will likely complete it.

Looking back, I saw that I had only written consistently and been most productive when I had been part of writing workshops. Here, I was expected to write, and I did. But left on my own, time would trickle down and I wouldn’t get to doing something that I, personally, wanted to do. Instead, I was getting caught up in other people’s agendas and running around helping (or unhealthily rescuing) first this person and then another.

It was after I let myself practice this concept (instead of thinking that I “should” be able to motivate myself on my own (something that Upholders, for example, find easy to do), that I finally got a writing coach. This turned out to be one of the best decisions that I have made in a long time. I have written more, more consistently than I have ever before in my life. I have applied for a writing grant that took months of work. For the first time in my life, I have felt that I am finally on my path.

What it took was re-framing something basic about me. This is similar to the kind of re-framing we often have to do as HSPs. An Obliger wrote something to Gretchen Rubin that I resonate with:

“As a TV writer, I’ve struggled miserably with my inability to stick to any kind of personal deadline, yet I’ve always been a dutiful employee who submits scripts on time to my boss. I’ve given this tendency many names: laziness, being irresponsible, being a child in grown-up clothes, and many terms that wouldn’t get past your spam filter. By giving me a new name—Obliger—you’ve given me a way to accept myself. I can put the self-loathing aside and concentrate on devising clever ways to trick myself into doing stuff. It’s already made me more productive, but more importantly, it’s made me much happier.”  

Are You An Obliger?

Of course, as an HSP, you might not fall into the Obliger category. But considering that it is the largest category (Rubin’s study found that 41% of the sample were Obligers), I think there are many HSPs who are also Obligers. Maybe you, like me, have gone for years meeting other people’s expectations, and then suddenly, everything becomes all too much and you say a big No. Obligers are often prone to burnout and at certain points in their lives, to what Rubin calls Obliger rebellion. Suddenly, or so it seems to other people, we have had enough and we won’t take anymore. Then, we walk out, literally or metaphorically. So, learning about how we are wired and how to make that work for us can be crucial in keeping our resentment stores down.

Also, understanding the different categories can help us understand the people around us. For example: Although Upholders and Obligers both want to meet outer expectations, Obligers are much more prone to burnout because Upholders also hold themselves to their inner expectations. Upholders might also be dismissive of other tendencies who need different things than they do. Rebels (only 17% in the sample, with the fewest members) resist expectations and can get into all kinds of tussles with people who expect them to comply with outer expectations (like Upholders). A Questioner child who has to be given a reason to do every little thing might be trying for a parent who is an Upholder or Obliger. But getting a whole picture and seeing the strengths and weaknesses of each type might help us relate better to different people. It can also give us a perspective on how different social contexts might work or not work for a particular type. Rubin gives an example of how a Questioner might be highly valued in a place like Silicon Valley but get into trouble in a place like North Korea. A Rebel, if they become a rebel without a cause, might just be highly annoying. But rebels are also the ones who question existing systems and can help bring about change. As always, the context as well as the other qualities of that person matter.

Like me, you might have several “ahas”  if you read The Four Tendencies and come to see that we often see the people around us as very similar to ourselves. Sometimes, we think that they should be motivated by the same things as ourselves. We think that what works for us is what works for them. But that’s not true. Like Rubin tells us in this and other books, often diametrically different things are the keys to different people’s happiness and success. The question is: What specifically works for you as an individual? What is your own nature?

This is, of course, a bare-bones portrait of Rubin’s four tendencies. But like me, maybe figuring out your own tendency might provide as an essential missing piece for you as an HSP and help you in your own journey.   

What Time Pressure Costs Us

How do you feel about the time pressure of this impatient world we live in?

Personally, I hate it, yet I often feel that slow is “wrong”.

Slow means getting run off the road by someone faster.

Slow means “missing the boat” because you can only miss it by being slow.

The fast pace of our society has a life of its own. It feels like “reality” and when we drop out of the high speed movement of our economic culture it can seem like a form of death.

But if you look at it another way, our fast paced system can feel like a form of death as well.

It seems like a catch-22.

What Time Pressure Costs Us

When you have to work fast, in my experience you also have to focus. Focus is great, but under conditions of pressure, that focus becomes narrowed to whatever will enable us to create a quick result and move on to the next action or decision.

Essentially the demand for speed forces us to be short-sighted.

There is a paradox in this: being short-sighted and fast forces us to make a lot of changes, but it also forces us to seek solutions that are “accessible”, that in effect, keep us where we are, that are not really innovative or difficult. So the project that takes longer, the relationship that requires cultivation – these things often do not happen.

What does happen is actions, decision, and people that fit our time constraints but not necessarily our needs. This is one of the reasons we feel we are in a rat race or running fast on a treadmill going nowhere. Time pressure forces us into choices that keep us stuck.

The Bigger Loss

Time pressure costs us more than we realize. While we are getting through the day, the kinds of connections, moments and observations that come with engaging with each moment often elude us. We are too busy.

There are many big consequences of time pressure:

  • we live in our heads. We make decisions based on what is expedient. Our bodies and hearts do not get a voice in what we are doing. The system, after all, has its prerogatives and its demands which must be honored.
  • we lose the mind-body connection which is an important foundation of living and also of our health. Everything in our lives and experience is processed in our minds AND bodies. There is no escape. So when we live in our heads, we do not process all of our feelings through our bodies and become stuck and sick. Our bodies feel dragged down and we feel that we are dragging them along with us rather than living fully from them.
  • we are unable to really connect. Do you ever wonder why ideology is so entrenched? When people live in their heads and go too fast, they do not have time for human connection. So they relate from political ideas or entertainments or recreational activities but not usually to each other.
  • we lose our creativity. A fast time-based system particularly a mechanistic one prefers continuity and consistency to creativity. Novelty and some innovation that serves the system are allowed but not the full-bodied creativity of an awake human being.
  • we lose our part and place in the universe. We are creative human beings. So when we cannot rock the boat by being creative then we lose our basic nature to a cultural and economic construct.
  • we lose our common ground because we are each of us competing cogs in a machine rather than collaborating co-creators of our world, a way of thinking that honors us better.

Letting Go Of Time Pressure

Letting go of time pressure is hard to do. Slowing down can seem like a luxury.

However, particularly for highly sensitive people it is a necessity because it is the only way we can give rein to our creative natures. It is also the only way we can minimize the stress that comes from being highly sensitive and taking in all of the stimulus that we take in.

So embrace the eternal present! Luxuriate in it and honor your creative talents for the benefit of all.

Rocking The Boat: An Important Life Skill

Do you want to rock the boat?

Make abstract art!

Abstract art does many things but it is best at rocking the boat and causing us to see things in a new way. Rocking the boat is an important life skill, and one that highly sensitive people should embrace.

Mindless Activity

Currently, we are besieged by change. Given the endless activity of novelty and new “trends” you would think that we allow and accept rocking the boat. In reality, we are probably not that open and accepting. Mindless activity is not change. Mindless activity can stop change because it invites shallow activity and serious change requires a deeper commitment of time and attention. Mindless activity is activity for activities sake; it is not purposeful and well thought out.

Another way to limit change is by creating chaos in the form of constant emergencies. Evolutionary psychology points out that the easiest way to stop growth and development is to have a war – which is a form of aggressive chaos.  Chaos is limiting because each moment is divorced from the next so that sustained activity becomes impossible. Under chaotic conditions, time and continuity are under siege; in war, people are, too.

The Serious Business Of Rocking The Boat

When you are serious about anything, you have to invest time and energy. Serious intention requires a lot of thinking, experimentation, testing of the waters, mistakes, and creativity. Serious intention means you have to slow down enough to make the necessary investment in what you are trying to accomplish.

Working fast reduces investments of time and energy which creates shallow results. One way to keep people from rocking the boat is to have them fixate on a lot of ever-changing novelty. It keeps people busy and creates illusions of change. The phrase, “The more things change, the more they say the same,” applies to these conditions.

Serious lasting change, then, requires a considerable amount of sustained effort. It has to be well thought out because that is the need for long-term commitment. Chaotic conditions keep people fixated on the short-term.

Rocking the boat is not the same thing as being challenging or provocative. It is relatively easy to be provocative but not easy to take a new idea from conception to reality. That is hard work!

When we deeply rock the boat we are changing ourselves and developing strength. In doing so we are changing relationships and power structures. Not everyone welcomes this.

Rocking The Boat May Mean A Fight

HSPs are natural although often inadvertent boat rockers. Being compassionate and empathetic are two reasons – they are culturally different values. Being creative and energy aware are others because these characteristics are not present in everyone. Our very natures, being different from non-HSPs, cause us to create conflict just by being ourselves. However,  it takes more than creating conflict to rock the boat or tip it over – in other words, to create lasting change.

Seriously rocking the boat takes sustained work and focus, something that HSPs may not be good at because of our tendency to be overstimulated and therefore have our attention fragmented. Serious boat rocking also may mean a fight although I mean fight in the sense of constructive engagement. To create any lasting change the old and new engage in a struggle over the merits of their positions and contributions. The necessity for change, the comfort of the old and the dangers of complacency, the skills that we know and the ones we have yet to learn all are weighed as we decide how to move forward into something new.

It is only in the struggle that the merits can be known, and strengths and weaknesses of anything assessed.

HSPs are good at grappling with the merits but not with the fight. We may be good grapplers but we often do it in private because our grappling may not be welcome. We may also avoid fights because they often seem like a smoke screen or a distraction used to obscure the necessity of change or to hold us back. Fights often seem to be more like resistance to change so we may resist the fight.

HSPs Can Become Great Advocates For Change

Rocking the boat should not be thought of as a reckless activity. You could make the case that the best people to rock the boat and create change are empathetic HSPs. However, we also have to be willing to fight. Fighting does not have to be fighting against, which is often how we think of it. Fighting can be the activity of bringing our hearts to a conflict. It can be a form of open-hearted grappling with the factors involved in the need for change.

Bringing our hearts, sensitivity, creativity and seriousness to change gives HSPs the potential to be great agents of change. We need change and we need HSPs to embrace it and become part of leading it.

 

Those Energy Thieves: How Overstimulation Hurts HSPs

Being a highly sensitive person can feel like you are living in a world that is too loud all of the time.

What do you do about raw nerves and nervous exhaustion?

Noticing The Energy Thieves

I call them energy thieves – all the demands for our attention that are unnecessary, counterproductive and unimportant. Unfortunately, there are so many of them.

It can take a lot of energy to deal with all of the energy thieves on our lives. Some energy thieves are obvious – television and social drama top the list. Others are not so obvious. In this consumer age, our time and energy are some of the things being consumed. The combination of high complexity and high demands for participation can wear down anyone. Highly sensitive people, however, are just worn out, they are at risk of getting sick.

When Speed Defines Life

The volume and complexity of daily life makes it difficult to operate at a manageable pace. The result is that unfinished business of all types pressures us for our attention as does our consuming social and economic system. Something has got to give and often in the case of highly sensitive people it is them.

Essentially anything that we have not dealt with becomes an energy thief and unfinished business becomes stored in our bodies. The minute something accesses our attention, it acquires energetic significance until it is dealt with.

Unfortunately, in the case of HSPs, our nervous systems are magnets for stimulus; often we become overwhelmed and are not able to deal with it. So we store it.If we are not careful we may start to feel that we are running out of places to store everything we have not been able to deal with and that adds to our stress even more.

All energetic information has a place inside us. There is one another place we need to look for energy thieves – our minds. The mind can be an energy thief in the following ways:

  • when we spend HUGE amounts of time ruminating about all sorts of things that are unhelpful
  • anger of the past
  • worry about the future
  • self-reproach
  • keeping score

How To Eliminate Energy Thieves

There is one form of keeping score that is useful: taking stock as often as you need to to see what energy thieves are laying claim to your time and energy. You are not doing this to push yourself harder but to seeing what is laying claim to your energy that should be examined. Too much entertainment, consumption, and personal dramas need to be considered and perhaps disposed of.

Taking Care Of What Is Important

Unfortunately, not everything that you would like to have gone can be discharged easily:

  • grieving the loss of a loved one
  • healing childhood abuse
  • ill health

Somethings require our attention for a long time and that may actually be good. Our best solution is to honor the process and the need by taking time for a meditation, journal writing or whatever healing approach we would like and let it have it’s place in our life without taking over. Once you have a process that honors you, you will feel more at ease. Your mind and body will be aligned with your well being and that creates internal peace.

Other thieves require a different approach. People, activities, and places that do not honor your value need to be reevaluated and if necessary given the boot. Notice the people, situations, and things that drain you as a sign of needed change.

It is very important to be patient with yourself. Energy thieves often do not go quietly. The more you take care of yourself, the easier it is to make necessary changes. Working on your energy health will help as well. Energy techniques like reiki and meditation can make a big difference in helping you realize the life you deserve.

Duality And The Mastery Of The Exquisite

 

Duality is something that many of us embrace as a way to develop perceptual sophistication.

You know…
…love vs. hate…
…light vs. dark…
…yin vs. yang…
…good vs. bad…
…masculine vs. feminine…

It’s a start!

Duality Can Be Like Fool’s Gold

Discovering duality can be exciting. It is a way to start to grapple with the world.

We can see differences and we have a way to think about them.

We have a way to make sense of what we see and feel.

We are in control!

Too many people treat duality as the last word on reality when it is really just the tip of the iceberg. It is not the last word in our quest for perceptual honesty and truth. It is only the beginning.

Duality Is A Window

Duality is like a window. It is a way to begin to understand differences.

But differences are not fixed. They exist in relation to other characteristics and contexts.

So duality is not a way to understand something concrete. It is how we begin to understand factors that are always changing.

Duality gives us an opening to learn about and understand the energy of differences.

It lets us be with differences so that we can begin to understand their value.

Light is not just one value, and dark is not just one value. Each offer us many rich variations and different levels of opacity, intensity, and subtlety.

When we engage with dualities we can begin to see what we miss.

Holding The Tension Of Dualities

The creative process provides us with a tension between what we want and where we are currently.

When we hold the tension between the two, possibilities then show themselves to us.

The same is true with dualities.

When we hold light and dark together in our attention, then they start to evolve. They move together, they dialogue, they may argue. They beome active.

Meeting The Exquisite

Holding dualities creates a movement to the middle.

It allows something to emerge. That something is a place that works, where the two elements are not just in balance but where they are the most effective, where they bring out the best in each other.

Holding the tension of dualities helps you find a sweet spot between them. It is a tool to help you hold the tension in conflicts and let solutions find you.

Finding solutions and where dualities are able to meet and work together reveals a sweet spot: a place where you a feel something fall into place.

It’s a place which feels right, a place where everything feels in sync.

When you find it, it feels like you have bumped into something exquisite. It is better than harmony and it is better than compromise.

It is the sweet spot, the exquisite feeling that comes from the tension of dualities coming together in the right way for the right reasons.

It is one of the best feelings in the world.

 

Do You Suffer From Emergency Mind?

When we afraid everything around us looms large and chaotic.

Lately though it seems that fear has become the norm and we are living in a perpetual state of emergency.

Perhaps it has always been this way but I am noticing something else at work that needs questioning.

Emergencies Are Not Innocent

Emergencies have become a way of life for many of us.

Notice our entertainment. They are mostly about emergencies. Whether depicting our health care system, focusing on national security, or relationships, many of our movies and television entertainments are based on the idea that life is an emergency.

Of course, we have some emergencies – some of the time.

However, I think we need to ask why emergencies have become the norm for our lives. It seems to me that we have been suffering from emergency creep for a long time, and now emergencies have reached a critical mass to the point that we may not recognize life without them.

Emergencies are not innocent. They take huge amounts of energy and resources. When they occur, they replace any other priorities. A continual state of emergency is a great way to control the social and even political agenda of a family, community and society.

The Consequences Of Emergencies

When an emergency is over we are often poorer for it.

If we have a hospital emergency we certainly understand the enormity of the bill, even if paid by our insurer.

When we have major storms, it is obvious how much damage is done to the physical plant of a community but also how disruptive of the ives of the people affected it is.

It takes no imagination to grasp the horrendous losses created by wars.

Occasional major emergencies create small disruptions.

Large and continuous emergencies do much more:

  • they make it impossible to plan. What is the point of planning anything if those plans will be destroyed by the next emergency.
  • they create a situation where people lose planning and life creating skills.
  • they consume resources that would be allocated differently without the emergency. Sometime they even take basic necessities. When you are taking care of an emergency, you may need to neglect rest and healthy food. If you do so as part of an emergency lifestyle, then you will end up sick and become an emergency yourself.
  • as people who have studied evolutional psychology will tell you, war stops all growth. So if you want to keep a people down, start a war or other major emergency. They keep people from thinking beyond surviving for the day – day in and day out..
  • they consume everything around them. The giant sucking sound that we have been hearing for a long time is the sound of emergencies taking over our lives.

Emergencies And Highly Sensitive People

Emergencies can be particularly damaging for highly sensitive people. Not only are they intense and overstimulating situations, but they are exceptionally harmful as a lifestyle.

Highly sensitive people are unlikely to make emergencies their chosen way of life because:

  • the continual adrenaline rush is very damaging to us.
  • we already suffer from stress. Emergencies are stressful situations on steroids.
  • it feels like a superficial way of living
  • emergencies do not bring out the best in us.
  • stress is so debilitating that we will not be able to work in a constant state of emergency
  • they do not use our best attributes: our intuition, insights, wisdom and creativity.
  • we cannot sustain them.
  • we do not want to sustain them

It is unfortunate the degree to which emergencies dominate our lives.

Highly sensitive people cannot afford the effects of continual crises. They are damaging in too many ways.

HSP’s are wise to notice emergency creep and work to minimize it in their lives.

Why Impatience Is SO Bad For You

Impatience is so bad for you.

It is one of the most seductive emotional states.

It is a great way to make life more difficult and relationships challenging.

Impatience is like playing a child’s game of bumper cars with real life and adult consequences.

Worshipping At The Altar Of Speed

I find the adoration of speed in our culture to be curious.

When I am going fast, I stop thinking.

Speed demands focus on the task at hand and so it cannot be a time to contemplate what you are doing.

To be truly effective at warp speed, you need to have contemplated, evaluated and assessed your intended actions before you engage in them,

Does our cultural speedfest really allow for that?

In my opinion, no.

Speed For Conquest

When the speed of daily life is ramped up, there are consequences. One of them is what happens with our attention and intention.

When we function at a slower pace, we spend time contemplating what we are doing, what we want to do,  and what we need to do.

We think about the implications of our actions, the alternative courses of action and the possibilities that our choices present.

We can own our intention.

When we have to go faster something has to give. What gives is usually the way we direct our attention.

A high speed life makes us more task oriented and more focused on the short-term.

That means that we delegate the long term to others. In doing so we disempower ourselves.

Faster living means that we have been made one down almost like objects or parts on a conveyor belt. We are the wheels on the bumper cars and someone else is doing the driving.

Our attention has to be elevated but we have lost our intention in the process.

Impatience Is Controlling

Moving at high speed means that there is not a lot of time for considering our purpose and agendas. Our attention is usually directed to working off items on our to-do lists. The really important stuff of life usually does not make our list and so without realizing it, our lives stop being our own.

We are living in speed, even in a state of perpetual emergency.

When you are in an emergency you do not have time to stop and ask why, you simply have to deal with it.

Someone else has set the priorities. While we think we are making choices, we are really filling in the blanks in a sentence created by someone else.

Observe impatient people. They are masters at making something wrong with you if you are not performing as they expect you to, or are not busy enough as if your busyness was a sign of your goodness.

How Impatience Took Us Over

Impatience is important as a social tool. It used to be that we aligned ourselves with nature. Our lives depended on an effective interaction with the source of our nourishment – the physical world we live in.

Nature is slow and always in process. It is interdependent. We have to work with and learn from nature. Imposing our will usually does not work vey well.

With the Industrial Revolution and the development of machines, markets took over from nature and became the center of our lives. We were diminished as was nature, simply servants of the market system.

The machine became almighty. We became dependent on:

  • the political machine
  • the machines of government
  • the machines of finance
  • the machines of war
  • mechanized business.

A machine doesn’t see you or relate to you.

You have to keep up with it, bend to it, and support it. This is why in spite of all the improvements in our living conditions, most of us feel an unspeakable loss. We never had it so good or so bad.

Taking Our Lives Back

Slowing down is the beginning of taking your life back.

It helps to see the mechanized structures of our lives as detrimental to intentional living, and look for ways to be as present as possible to all aspects of our lives.

We are not here to serve some machine.

We are here to live fully.

The impatient life of markets takes so much from us. Letting go of it, being willing to be without it as much as possible restores you to a right relation with your own life.

It’s worth doing.

It’s a great place to be.

Tyranny of the Clock

People in an economic system based on production learn to live with the tyranny of the clock.  Although people have been tracking time since the early days of humans, our relationship with time has become different.

Time used to be related to something going on in nature.  People measured the hours of sunshine, the seasons, and how long crops took to grow.  The day began when the sun came up and ended when it set. Our survival was directly related to what nature offered us and so our relationship to time was related to nature also.

Since the Industrial Revolution, we have changed our relationship to time and nature. We treat nature as something we control.  It is understandable that we sought to control nature because we felt so out of control in relation to nature: the weather was so unpredictable, the basic needs of people were not being met, and disease was rampant.  At the time, natural resources were so plentiful. So we created machines and production processes to harness natural resources to take care of our basic needs and kept on going.  Time became a factor in production costs and therefore directly affected profits.

Time And Limits

There were understandable reasons for the economic system that we have created.  Human society at the time of the Industrial Revolution was saddled with all sorts of limits that needed to be challenged. Some of these limits were based on belief systems. Some limits were geographical, others political. Even time felt limiting because we were limited by the amount that each person could accomplish which in turn limited our ability to meet our needs. Since the Industrial Revolution, the clock has been used as a tool for challenging limits through productivity measurements which evaluate how well we produce in a specific period of time.  Our educational system is organized around time.  We have a certain period of time to learn a given amount of material, whether we learn or not is often irrelevant, when time is up, time is up.

When the clock controls how much attention we give to something or someone, we relinquish control over our lives because we are not really engaging with life and the realities around us.  If it takes two years to learn a subject but you only have six months, then essentially your learning is controlled by the demand for speed. If it takes 2 hours to accomplish a task well and one hour is all that is allowed, again you relinquish control over the quality you are able to bring to the work by the demand for speed.  If it takes a year to grieve the loss of a friend, and the people around you demand that you grieve quicker, then your life is diminished by the demand for speed and your health may be negatively affected.

Speed And Sensitive People

The demand for speed is a serious issue for highly sensitive people since creativity, deep listening, and serious problem solving do not lend themselves to time pressure. HSP’s inevitably suffer from distracting and unhelpful conflicts when they are expected to work under artificial, and unnecessarily restrictive time schedules. To the highly sensitive person production is not the end and be all of one’s work life. Qualitative considerations are more important than quantitative ones – within reason of course.

Being sensitive means that we notice the cost of our highly competitive and highly demanding capitalistic system. We notice the stress in ourselves and others, the loss of time for connection and the kind of deep teamwork that is satisfying and inclusive. We see the loss of our cherished natural environment and all the cost to animals and humans. I suspect that to most HSPs the cost-benefit analysis does not read the way it does to an accountant. As a result, how we use time will also be different.

Time And Quality Of Engagement

The tyranny of the clock does not allow for the freely engaged way of relating to living and problem solving that results in deep satisfaction. It does a lot of damage and creates more problems than it solves. There is such a need for healing caused by the destructive shortsightedness of a high-pressure economy.  As a result, it is bound to be unsatisfying to highly sensitive people.

Time is precious. A high-pressure system is not very appealing to highly sensitive people who will treat time as they treat other things with regard and diligence. Finding a way to live true to your sensitive self and still contribute to your culture is a central challenge of sensitive people everywhere.

5 Reasons Being A Control Freak Is Good For You

Are you a control freak?

Do you get teased for being organized?

Do you receive disapproval for needing a neat environment?

Do you feel that you are “wrong” to be this way?

Would you be surprised to learn that you are right to want to be organized and neat?

Being Neat Is Not The Same As Being A Control Freak

Being organized has acquired the perception that it is about being self conscious rather than being effective. It has come to mean uptightness and social ineptitude. It goes against our cherished cultural ideal of relaxed confidence and in doing so robs us of needed opportunities for growth.

Here are five reasons why being organized and neat can help you particularly if you are an HSP:

  1. being organized makes it easier to be focused.
  2. being organized helps you bring your best attention to what you are doing by clearing the space around you.
  3. being organized minimizes distractions from things and people which reduces stress and makes work easier.
  4. being organized helps you use your time well so that you can attend to the most important priorities in your day.
  5. being organized makes it possible for you to live your dreams by getting rid of all the problems you don’t have to have in favor of the ones you do have to have.

Being A Control Freak Helps Personal Growth?

Perhaps we have become too task oriented to perceive the larger implications of organization. I continually remind myself that cluttering up my life with problems that are unnecessary is a great way to not get to the “problems” of growing and creating that I really need. Having the problems I do not have to have is a great way to avoid putting myself out there and it does not feel very good.

For highly sensitive people, the problems of distraction and clutter are more acute. Highly sensitive people have a particular set of issues which show up in physical, emotional, mental and spiritual ways that require mindful attention.

HSPs experience a higher level of intensity which requires different life  and work strategies:

  • every aspect of life for highly sensitive people demands more of them and as a result, HSPs need to be careful about what they give their attention to.
  • because of the HSP tendency to sensory overstimulation, they need to manage their lives to minimize stress.  All aspects of life: work, social, family, and management of daily life require careful consideration.
  • in a culture where people are expected to put up with significant amounts of stress, which is often perceived as “normal”, HSPs may be treated with disrespect and be perceived as weak because of their need to minimize stress in their lives.
  • simple ways of living to minimize complexity including simple diets can help HSPs. Simple living can be life saving and freeing for a highly sensitive person.
  • herbal remedies and health practices like meditation can help to minimize the chance of disease and illness which plague many highly sensitive people from unavoidable sensory overload.

Highly sensitive people are often creative and have the potential to achieve great things. Many are geniuses with special talents. By getting a handle on their daily lives, physical problems and stress issues, they have a chance to have the wonderful “problem” of developing their considerable gifts.

Being organized in a way that suits the highly sensitive person may be called control freak by others. However, it offers highly sensitive people the potential to blossom into the person they were meant to be.  Having the problems you don’t have to have helps you have the problems (of growth) that you do have to have,

For More Information:

Why The Skill Of Focusing Is Important For HSP’s

Overstimulation: How Subtle Energy Overwhelms HSP’s

The Problems You Have To Have…

If you are having the problems you don’t have to have, you are not having the problems that you have to have.

It’s a saying I have to remind myself that cluttering up my life with problems that are unnecessary is a great way to not get to the “problems” of growing and creating that I really need.

Having the problems I do not have to have is a great way to avoid putting myself out there and it does not feel very good.

The Problems Of HSP’s And Their Hidden Advantage

Highly sensitive people have a particular set of issues which show up in physical, emotional, mental and spiritual challenges that require mindful attention. HSPs experience a higher level of intensity which requires different life strategies. It can be difficult to handle all the intensity but learning to do so is very rewarding.

  • Every aspect of life for highly sensitive people demands more of them and as a result, HSPs bring more attention to most things they do. That can become an asset.
  • Because of the HSP tendency to sensory overstimulation, they need to manage their lives in such a way that they minimize stress overload. All aspects of life: work, social, family, and management of daily life require careful consideration. This challenge means that a sensitive person can develop greater focus and mindfulness about what they do.
  • Highly sensitive people need to monitor the build up of stresses in their lives. We live in a culture where people are expected to put up with significant amounts of stress, which is often perceived as normal. For HSPs, “normal” stress is a non starter. Unfortunately, HSPs may be treated with disrespect and be perceived as weak because of their need to minimize stress in their lives. This challenge can lead to a need to develop better time management skills and optimize one’s health.
  • Many HSPs have decided to develop simple ways of living in order to keep unnecessary complexity out of their lives including keeping their diets simple. Simple living can be life saving and freeing for HSPs. HSPs as a result can develop an eagle eye for what is necessary and what isn’t.
  • Herbal remedies and health practices like meditation can help to minimize the chance of disease and illness which plague many highly sensitive people. Improved health is a considerable advantage in all aspects of life.

Highly sensitive people are often creative and have the potential to achieve great things. Many are geniuses with special talents. By getting a handle on their daily lives, physical problems and stress issues, they have a chance to have the wonderful “problem” of developing their considerable gifts.